A Productive Delay

A bit of a hiccup in this week’s writing plans.  No flash fiction for today, though I hope to have a piece up by tomorrow.

Yesterday, I escaped the house and limped downtown for a cup of coffee.  Getting out was good, though my foot reminded me of existing limitations with each right step.  I mostly ignored them.  On my way to the shop, I passed by my gym, a century old YMCA that, despite its committee’s best efforts, still retains some architectural interest.  The peripheral gardens are small, and the groundskeeper or landscaper that the Y uses has perpetuated the curious eccentricity of planting kalanchoes as temperate decorations.

I’ve noticed the rising popularity of succulents in cool climate gardens.  Sedum is perhaps the most noticeable, as I’ve seen large swaths of low growing varieties in even conservative yards.  Kalanchoes are a distant, though commonplace, second.

I don’t know when people began ignoring the plants’ desired biomes when selecting them, and I suppose it doesn’t do a great deal of harm as succulents are more susceptible to fungal infections, to wet and cold, than local species, and as such aren’t likely to outpace native flowers or ground cover.  Frequently the desert plants don’t make it through the winter, and when they do they start late, only coming to full health in summer.  My porch box prickly paw patch looks half dead two-thirds of the time, only thriving between june and september.

Succulents are attractive, they’re among my favorites, but I wouldn’t include them in my garden.  Perhaps harmless, but they do seem odd.  A bit like coming across a fence made of table legs.  Aesthetically pleasing, functional, but odd.  Strikingly out of place.  Kalanchoes are especially so, as not much deciduous or herbaceously perennial looks like a kalanchoe.  They flower in much the same way temperate plants do, with the flowers appearing at their tops rather than as the late afterthought forming the flowers of many other succulents and cacti.  They’re green.  They have leaves.  Other than that, one would be unlikely to be fooled into thinking them local.  He might instead wonder what this benign alien intended with his garden.

Kalanchoes are better in pots.  Not only do xenos specimens seem better suited to a protected and protective environment, kalanchoes do better indoors in bright light than they do outside.  Our winters are too cold, our springs too wet.  My feelings aside, I’d not pluck something from another’s garden, even if that other is an ambiguous, corporate entity. 

I pride myself on rescue, however.

Someone, it seems the landscaper or groundskeeper mentioned above, cut through the Y’s yard with a weed smasher, the dull corded sort of thing that does as much damage to remaining plants as it does to those extricated.  On the sidewalk by the yard were several bunches of kalanchoe stalks, some already trampled to pulp, others with ruptured vacuoles such that they wilted, seemed to melt in on themselves.  A few were salvageable, and so I did.

Tomorrow I’ll dissect the healthy portions, given the sections time to scab.  In a week or so I’ll pot them.  In a month, the survivors should have developed enough root mass to support themselves and the world will have a few dozen, more appropriately planted, plants to beautify it and process its excess carbon.

Days in which I can propagate new plants from abandoned sections give me hope. 

The world, for those few hours, seems tenable.

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